IBM supplied 142 self-service kiosks across eight airports to enable Air Canada passengers to pass more quickly through the process of ticketing, check-in, boarding and handling baggage. The system is restricted to airports in North America as this is where Air Canada’s main business is.
Air Canada has a long-standing relationship with IBM, which extends to IBM supplying equipment for the airline’s Maple Leaf Lounges as well as the Air Canada cyber ticket office. This allows users to make reservations on all Air Canada flights via the Internet and involved the joint development of technology. The kiosk system is seen as the culmination of the commercial co-operation between the two companies.
THE KIOSK SYSTEM
The kiosk is operated by an IBM PC with a touch-sensitive monitor, a boarding pass printer and a card reader. Customers with paper or electronic tickets can activate the system by inserting an Air Canada Aeroplan card or the credit card used to purchase the ticket into the kiosk’s card reader.
On-screen prompts lead users through the process. They can confirm their itinerary, confirm, select or change their seat through the use of interactive seat maps, request an upgrade or stand-by for an earlier flight and receive instructions on how to check baggage. Boarding gate information is also provided and the process ends with the printing of a bar-coded boarding pass. If there is no baggage to check, passengers can then proceed directly to the gate.
The devices are available for use in both English and French and the system should aid Air Canada’s throughput. Costs have been cut in processing interaction with the customer, as the system makes these functions either automatic or able to be performed by the passengers themselves. The new system has directly enhanced Air Canada’s profitability and reduced passenger check-in time by 80%. The kiosk standard called Common Use Self Service (CUSS) will aid airlines to adapt their self-service applications and run them on shared kiosks.
Other related technologies developed and implemented by Air Canada and IBM include PanoramIX, which allows Air Canada website users to peruse panoramic images of Air Canada planes interactively and experience a virtual take-off and landing, and Journey Management, a simulation modelling technique that uses advanced information technology to determine resources needed to get passengers through check-in, security and boarding faster.